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Hospital Stripped Of Accreditation After Mistakes On Two Patients

Fri., April 14, 1995, midnight

The hospital where a man lost the wrong leg and another patient was mistakenly removed from a ventilator was stripped Thursday of the accreditation it needs to continue getting millions in federal funds.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations took the action 10 days after a surprise inspection. The panel issued a statement announcing the punishment and wouldn’t elaborate on its findings.

University Community Hospital, one of three major hospitals in the Tampa area, has 20 days to appeal. In the meantime, it will retain the accreditation it received two years ago with high marks - a score of 95 out of 100.

Without accreditation, the private, not-forprofit hospital cannot qualify for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. The hospital last year received $52 million from the government programs - about one-third of its patient revenue.

“We do not treat these incidents lightly,” Ken Lightfoot, the hospital’s board chairman, said. “However, by singling out UCH, the industry regulators are refusing to accept the fact that all, and I repeat all, hospitals have similar patient incidents.”

The problems at the 424-bed hospital began Feb. 20, when doctors amputated below the knee the wrong leg of 51-year-old diabetic Willie King.

Less than two weeks later, Leo Alfonso, 77, died after a technician mistakenly removed him from a ventilator, thinking he was another patient.

Later investigations revealed other mistakes.

The American Medical Association wants to use the hospital as an example of how a hospital should not operate. It has called on the private accreditation board to release its findings and recommendations.

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